David Thomas Deacon of Corpus Christi, Texas (formally from Kingsville, Texas) passed away July 1, 2021, at the age of 83. The son of Charles Thomas and Dora Underwood Deacon, Dave was born December 25, 1937, in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania but was fortunate to grow up in nearby Swarthmore where he graduated from Swarthmore High School in 1956. He received his BA from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana in 1960 where he met his wife of 60 years Sibyl Caster Deacon. They were married on September 10, 1960, and immediately proceeded to Boston University where Dave received his MFA in Directing and Acting in 1962. The couple returned to Earlham where Dave taught theatre and directed plays on a one-year appointment filling in for his mentor Arthur Little who was on a one-year sabbatical to study Japanese Noh theatre. After Earlham, The Deacons moved to Indianapolis' Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) where he taught speech and theatre as well as designed, directed and acted in many productions in the central Indiana area. In 1965, he accepted a position at Texas A & I College as designer and technical director. As a theatre generalist - directing, acting, set and lighting design, as well as playwriting -- over his four decades at Texas A & I (later TAMUK), he was involved in over 350 productions. In the mid 1970's, he began work on interdisciplinary fine arts studies at Ohio University.
Dave determined to have an interesting life figured that this could be accomplished by dedicating himself to theatre the art which encompasses all the fine arts and life itself. Always fascinated by all aspects of life, he realized that this fascination stemmed from December 7, 1941. Dave's father, Charles who was a Royal Naval Air Service veteran of World War I, was invited by former Royal Navy comrade Captain Jack Reed then commander to come aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Furious. The warship was undergoing repairs in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. While touring the ship, the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred. Although about to turn four years of age and too young to understand the ramifications of this historical event, it, nonetheless, left a considerable impression on Dave that remained with him through his life and imbued him with a love of history. Perhaps the greatest irony came in 1973 while directing a Texas A & I student USO theatre tour of Far East military installations. At that time Dave shared a room with a USO guide and former WWII Japanese soldier at the Imperial Hotel in Sasebo, Japan - the location where Admiral Yamamoto and staff had planned the attack.
Dave was happiest when teaching theatre, particularly seeing young actors grow under his direction. In 2003 in recognition of his teaching at Texas A & M University - Kingsville, the Javelina Alumni Association presented him with a Distinguished Alumni Teaching Award, and in 2005 he was honored with Las Luminarias (Bringer of Light) awarded by the university student body.
Professionally Dave was fortunate enough to work with many outstanding theatre people. While a graduate student at Boston University he directed Faye Dunaway and worked closely with musical theatre standouts Dave and Gretchen Cryer (parents of Jon Cryer). Later he would work with such actors as Robert Guillame, Brian Keith, William Warfield, noted American religious dramatist Warren Kliewer, and Hollywood actors Jason Rhodes and Tony Brafa. As a designer, director or actor he appeared professionally in productions at the Hedgerow Theatre in Pennsylvania, The Wayside Theatre in Virginia and The Georgia State Theatre in Columbus. In Georgia, he designed the southeastern premier of Big River and, shortly after his retirement took on the role of Norman in On Golden Pond. No stranger to local theatre at the Harbor Playhouse, he was recognized with Sammy Awards for directing and for leading roles in Preston Jones The Oldest Living Graduate as well as and Henry Higgins in Lerner and Lowe's My Fair Lady. In the 1980's he was a director at The Alpha Psi Omega Players, a professional touring company then based in Rockport, Texas. In 1994 he collaborated with Janelle Kleberg by adapting and directing her collected stories of the early history of the King Ranch which he entitled Tales of the Wild Horse Desert. The epic play demonstrated unique contributions made by the Anglo, Hispanic, and African American communities in the development of the storied ranch.
As a youngster Dave always wanted to be a cowboy perhaps accounting for his late life involvement with King Ranch and the South Texas horse culture. For three decades he devoted himself to his beloved Arabian - Omni Almarah and quarter horse - Kodi regularly riding them in Kleberg County Sheriff's Mounted Patrol events. His intense love of animals both domestic and wild resulted in his adoption of an old mule - Red - a survivor of a killer bee attack.
Upon his retirement in 2006 as Professor Emeritus of Theatre, Dave soon became restless and yearned for a return to stage work. In 2010 he volunteered to teach theatre at Presbyterian Pan American International High School along with his former student Ric Saenz. Having always considered himself a citizen of the world, he found great satisfaction teaching them theatre art as well as writing plays tailored to their needs.
Dave is survived by his wife Sibyl of Corpus Christi, Texas; son Marshal Deacon and grandson Nathan of Columbia City, Indiana; son Keith Deacon and wife Denise of Monroe, Washington; son Eric Deacon of Kingsville, Texas; two nieces Susan Royce of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania and Lisa Aspy of Woodstock, Georgia; and a nephew Rick Durkee of Savanna, Georgia.
He was proceeded in death by his sister, Pauline Durkee of Woodstock, Georgia.
In lieu of flowers, Dave requests donations be made to animal welfare organization such as Animal Rescue Kleberg (ARK), the ASPCA, Best Friends, or Habitat for Horses.